Non-Violence: A Reflection & Application of Yoga Sutra II.35 on Communication.


Yoga Sutra II.35

📘 ahimsapratisthayam tatsannidhau vairatyagah

English Translation by B.K.S. Iyengar:

"When non-violence in speech, thought and action is established, one's aggressive nature is relinquished and others abandon hostility in one's presence."


Yoga Sutra II.35 describes the effects of observing 'ahimsa' = non-violence; and it suggests that a yogi who is firmly grounded in the understanding of non-violence has some pretty amazing superpowers. What are these superpowers you ask?

The commentary in 'Light on the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali' states:

"In the vicinity of a yogi, men and animals who are otherwise violent and antipathetic towards each other, abandon their hostility and exhibit friendliness and mutual tolerance."

Now I'm not sure about you, but if I could conjure up a superpower to create friendliness and mutual tolerance in our present times, this would be one that I would love to have. But alas, if I want to have the superpower, I have to do the work...the inner work of a yogini; and so I've been doing some thinking.

I've identified one area that needs some revamping and that's my speech. I believe it's important to share your views and opinions, but in reflection, the truth is that I haven't truly been seeking to communicate or gain common ground with others. In reality, most of my words were sculpted as if I were heading into battle and desperately needed to win.

In an effort to practice non-violence, I'm working to make some changes and I've started incorporating some brilliant advice by master communicator, Tony Robbins. In his book titled, Unlimited Power, he says, "Most of us think of settling a dispute as something akin to verbal boxing. You pound through your arguments until you get what you want. Much more elegant and effective models are the Oriental martial arts, like aikido and t'ai chi. There, the goal is not to overcome force, but to redirect it - not to meet force with force, but to align yourself with the force directed at you and guide it in a new direction."

Today I challenge you to try living ahimsa through your words and use the agreement frame, presented by Mr. Robbins. "It consists of 3 phrases you can use in any communication to respect the person you're communicating with, maintain rapport with him, share with him what you feel is true, and yet never resist his opinion in any way. Without resistance there is no conflict.

Here are the three phrases:

I appreciate and...

I respect and...

I agree and...

In each case, you're doing three things. You're building rapport by entering the other person's world and acknowledging his communication rather than ignoring or denigrating it with words like 'but' or 'however.' You're creating a frame of agreement that bonds you together. And you're opening the door to redirecting something without creating resistance."

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